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How a Sale pal's query sparked England recall Tuilagi to lose 6kgs

By Liam Heagney

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Not getting selected for the Lions tour to South Africa has turned out to have its benefits for Manu Tuilagi, as the Sale and England midfielder was able to tackle a full pre-season during which he managed to slim down six kilos before playing his first full 80 minutes last Saturday in twelve months. Not since September 12 last year, when Sale lost at home to Bath, had the menacing centre played every single minute of a match. 

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He did his ACL just 13 minutes into his next club outing at Northampton and while he returned to make three appearances at the tail-end of last season, it was only last weekend – with Bath ironically back at the AJ Bell – that Tuilagi closed out the 80-minute issue that stretched back a full year.    

He did so having shed a decent chunk of weight through exercise and tweaks to his diet and eating habits. His profile on the Gallagher Premiership website now lists him at 110kgs and he was pleased with what unfolded for him in the hard-fought, season-opening win.

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“It felt good to be fair,” he said when asked by RugbyPass at Wednesday’s Sale media briefing about his changed complexion which has seen him lose 6kgs so far with much more to come as the ultimate target is seemingly the loss of upwards of a stone in weight by the time the season is a few matches old.

“I haven’t played a full 80 for a while so it was good. It was good to move around and good for the legs. The lungs were good but I’m just getting used to it.”

England boss Eddie Jones was happy with what he saw, including a 30-year-old Tuilagi – last capped in March 2020 – in the 45-strong Test squad for next week’s mini training camp in London. But the story about the player’s new look dates back to an awkwardly delivered question from Rohan Janse van Rensburg, his fellow Sale midfielder, last June following on from their semi-final loss at Exeter.

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That query became the lightbulb moment for Tuilagi to take a tougher approach to his fitness, with red meat and sugar intake apparently in the hit list. “I guess after the disappointing loss against Exeter, ‘the Beast’ Rohan said to me, he asked the question, do you think you are fit enough? Were we fit enough to play that game? It was a tough question to answer but it probably was true (they felt they weren’t). 

Being the big centres you want to play more, you don’t want to just get the involvement here and wait for the next one. You want to be involved every time – in defence, in attack. We said maybe we will lose four, five kilos. That will allow us to be involved a lot more so we set out to do that straight after the season and we are nearly there. We’re not there yet but we’re nearly there. 

“It’s tough. Depending on the days that you are training you just try and not to eat too much carbs and eat relatively early in the evening so that you have time to digest before you go to bed. The guys here at Sale are helping us with our diets.”

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How a Sale pal's query sparked England recall Tuilagi to lose 6kgs

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